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Absolut perfection: A brief history of one of the longest-running ad campaigns

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Absolut, the renowned vodka brand, was founded in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith and is produced in Åhus, Sweden. In 1917, the Swedish government monopolized the country’s alcohol industry. Vodka was then sold nationwide under the name “Absolut Rent Brännvin” The name changed with intervals, and in 1979, the old name Absolut became Absolut Vodka.  

Before it was introduced to the rest of the world in 1979, the Swedish brand of vodka was only available in Sweden for a century. They had little to no branding and their bottle design was quite subtle, which made it tough to stand out. It was a risky move, and they needed to be unique to stand out.

The Play

Absolut Perfection, Absolut’s first commercial, launched in 1981 and went on to become the longest-running advertising campaign in history. Gunnar Broman, a well-known adman in Stockholm, started from scratch, with no brand name, container, or even vodka. The positioning strategy was based on the promise of a completely different experience.

In 1986, Andy Warhol designed the now renowned print ad for Absolut vodka. Over the next 25 years, 1,500 different iterations of the commercial would be made for the brand, and it would help the brand make inroads throughout the world. The brand’s new book, “Absolut: A History of the Idea,” was released this year to commemorate the original print campaign’s 25th anniversary. 

The possibilities

Absolut has launched a new duty-free commercial campaign in airports. The concept might be used to tie in with existing holiday celebrations, such as Christmas. You open the door to a customer-brand relationship by being in touch with the human side of life, such as friends and family. They strategically placed advertisements in strategic spots and blend them in with their environment.

Absolut’s World Cup commercial was a stroke of brilliance since it made the tournament more personal to people and their homes. They realised they could participate in current events as well as sporting ones. This kept the customer in the physical space they were in while also promoting their brand. They accomplished something similar with their World Cup version.

The outcome

In the United States alone, sales increased from 10,000 cases in 1980 to 4.5 million cases in 2000. They accounted for more than half of all imported brands into the United States. The company’s campaign lasted 25 years and included more than 1500 versions. People feel more connected as a result, and when people feel connected, they are more likely to buy from you. Little wonder then that the brand has become a household name that is firmly embedded in pop culture.

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The story of Tiktok and beyond

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The story of Tiktok as social media apps

As social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were staying strong in the digital age, TikTok seemed to appear out of nowhere to share the thunder with the social media giants mentioned earlier.

TikTok is an entertaining, addictive app that managed to win over the hearts of people, mainly the youth. It is a short-form video platform, has perhaps become the hottest app ever as it has over 2.3 billion all-time downloads. The growth of TikTok has been exponential.

Right after the collaboration with Musical.ly, ByteDance launched TikTok. It instantly got the reception that was expected to reach around 800 million active users. Not just the youth but people from all age groups made it on TikTok. It was also known for the creation of jobs, as “influencers” made huge profits online.

TikTok in India saw a huge rise in the number of users (over 200 million). But just when TikTok was expanding in India, India’s long-time dispute with China seemed to be ignited again. In a move that month befitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, the Indian government removed 59 Chinese-made apps, TikTok among them, citing national security concerns.

Left reel-ing

Not only was Tiktok hit hard, but also the influencers lost a majority of their livelihood. There were petitions, protests to bring TikTok back but none of them worked. Suddenly, 200 million people had to live in a post-TikTok era. Many apps like MX TakaTak, Josh, Roposo, etc. tried to replace TikTok in India, but could not create the impact TikTok did. After that, social media giants like Instagram and Facebook decided to quickly take the stage and launch ‘reels’ which did have a significant impact on the TikTok audience but failed to connect with the ‘hinterland’ part of India like TikTok.

There is also the grisly undertone of ‘classism’, as TikTok succeeded not just because of the content on it, but who was on it. Even as Facebook, Instagram, and the likes were flooded with users from urban India, TikTok gave India’s hinterland creators a voice. Once it went dark, these erstwhile TikTok users faced a deluge of criticism, outright hate, and a much reduced fan following. Even as the Indian audience continues its search to find the right successor of TikTok, many look forward to TikTok’s return with bated breath.

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Credit cards for India’s unbanked, now a reality

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Credit cards are an excellent way to build credit and make important purchases when cash is a bit tight. However, not everyone has access to a credit card, and this is particularly true in India, where financial inclusion remains a challenge. Across India, approximately 400 million people cannot “afford” a credit card, leaving them out of the financial mainstream and without access to a critical financial instrument. One startup, named GalaxyCard, provides a digital credit card specifically to these low-income individuals overlooked by others. And they issue these cards within 3 minutes. 

This FinTech startup ties up with multiple channels like UPI, in-app services, and even offline. Around 1 lakh digital cards have been issued until now, with annual revenues touching Rs. 1 Crore.

Amit Kumar, who previously founded the mobile-based payment application firm Eashmart, which was eventually bought by PayUMoney in 2014, co-founded GalaxyCard with his friend Gunjeet Singh. The latter was closing down his own logistics firm Truckload at the time, after repeated stints as a product manager.

How does it work?

The income model of the firm is comparable to that of a traditional bank, but with smaller ticket sizes. The credit limit lies within a minimum of Rs. 1,000 and a maximum of Rs. 25,000. A user can begin with Rs. 1,000, and when the system collects additional information (such as how the money is spent, repayment time, overdue, other sources of income, dependency, and so on), the limit rises to Rs. 5,000, then Rs. 25,000, but remains below the user’s total steady income. The ‘bump up’ is based on the user’s financial situation, and it is thoroughly scrutinized by the platform to keep dangers of default to a minimum. 

As fintech rises exponentially, companies tend to change their business model as technology and requirements evolve. If India’s digital banking ecosystem is to grow, it must look beyond the pool of users in urban cities, and bring in those within India’s hinterland to its fold. GalaxyCard is an interesting solution to a long-time problem faced by the unbanked, and could well solve rural India’s credit conundrum. 

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CoinSwitch Kuber: The story of India’s largest crypto exchange

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The growth of Cryptocurrency over the years has been astronomical. People are now tempted to take their first steps into the world of crypto. To make trading, investing, and knowledge of crypto easier for people, three engineers, Ashish Singhal (CEO), Govind Soni (CTO), and Vimal Sagar (COO) launched ‘CoinSwitch Kuber’ in 2017. This began the journey of a platform that is now home to over 11 million users.

In early 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a policy that did not allow the banks to support crypto transactions that forced the three founders to spread their idea outside India with the VC, Sequoia Capital funding them in the seed round. But soon in early 2020, their dream of shedding light on the digital currency in India came true as the Supreme Court of India overturned RBI’s policy. ‘CoinSwitch Kuber’ was then introduced to the people of India.

Ashish defines simplified User Experience (UX) and the decision to not provide the users with some trading features as the two factors that helped the platform overtake other coin exchanges.

CoinSwitch recently suspended crypto withdrawals for its users due to lack of clear rules concerning the currency. Clarifying the move, Ashish says, “This was perhaps the hardest call we had to take. But regulators are worried about crypto being used as legal tender and hurting the sovereignty of the Indian rupee. Further, they are worried crypto can be used for money laundering and other illicit activities. So far, no one has figured out how to stop it, but disabling crypto withdrawals in a stopgap measure till the right policies come in place.”

Talking about the future, the founders aim to transform this app into a full-time investment platform with crypto and traditional financial instruments available for everyone. Praising the investors such as a16z, the founders hope that the Indian government defines the rules around crypto better, and compartmentalize virtual currencies based on their use cases and not prohibit it in upcoming legislation.

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